Why it's time for Libertarians to Vote for Republicans

A nearly lifelong libertarian, I was among those who split with the libertarian wing from Young Americans for Freedom in the late 1960s. My disdain for so-called conservatives and the Republican Party was cemented on August 15, 1971, when President Nixon imposed wage and price controls and abandoned what was left of the gold standard. From then until 2008, I voted only for libertarian candidates, except twice. I have no regrets for having voted for libertarian-Republican Congressman Tom McClintock. I profoundly apologize for helping to elect Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This experience helped me to “re-learn” that voting Republican was a waste.

In 2010, a sea-change in politics occurred. I watched the Democrats steal or barely win three Senate seats in 2008, giving them a super-majority. This led to statist legislation of the sort that should only be found in countries like Venezuela. Worse, the most destructive of the new laws, the grotesquely misnamed “Affordable Care Act,” created Soviet-style central planning at its finest, combined with an economic fascism that Hitler and Mussolini would have been proud of. I was so disgusted with the Democrats, who have no understanding of the importance of the price mechanism in the efficient operation of free markets, I vowed never again to help elect a Democrat by voting libertarian. I realized I needed to vote for Republicans.

My libertarian friends were aghast. After all, Republicans were complicit in allowing medical care to implode. They passed one good piece of legislation under President Bush, turning MSAs (Medical Savings Accounts) into HSAs (Health Savings Accounts). However, they expanded Medicare via a completely new prescription drug program. Along with WWII wage and price controls, Medicare had already helped to create the third party-payer system that led to exorbitant medical costs; the so-called “Affordable Care Act” (which I call TUACA--The Unaffordable Anti-Care Act, since government care is an oxymoron and certainly isn’t affordable) compounded this mess. There were numerous missed opportunities: Republicans never tried to turn the FDA into an advisory regulatory body that would allow adults to make life-and-death decisions about their own lives. They never tried to limit the power of medical cartels such as the American Medical Association. And they were in power in the late 1980s when the medical threshold for deducting medical expenses was increased from 2.5% to 7.5% of AGI (Adjusted Gross Income), increasing the incentive to lower deductibles and have third-parties pay for all medical costs. Outside of medicine, Republicans were complicit in allowing government to create the housing bubble. They led the charge in the misguided war on drugs, ignoring the fact that it’s a property rights issue (just like guns). Many, if not most, Republican politicians think they know what the minimum price of labor should be; some even advocate indexing such prices with inflation. They fail to acknowledge that minimum-wage laws are among the most racist and anti-teenager laws on the books. I, along with millions of other libertarians, are unhappy over these and numerous other stances taken by the purported major party of small government.

2010 was the year that changed this: the Tea Party movement begun in 2007 by libertarian-Republican Congressman Ron Paul, began to make inroads into the mindset of many Republicans and non-Republicans alike. The Libertarian Party had only occasional minor successes in its 40+ years of existence. The Tea Party, then in its infancy, helped bring a new generation of people an understanding of free-market economics and limited-power constitutional government. Before getting too religious for my tastes, the Tea Party helped elect more than a few libertarian-Republican politicians. While the Democratic Party was hopeless in terms of effecting change towards free markets there was, I realized, at least reason for encouragement within the Republican Party.

I also concluded we need time. By slowing down the seeming inexorable trend toward statism we might have a chance of creating a free market revolution through education. The number of free-market oriented organizations dedicated to teaching, research and litigation has exploded from the time of my initial awareness, when there was perhaps a handful; today, there are dozens. In the 1960s few had ever heard the word “libertarian;” today, the term is mainstream. In the 1960s there were three TV networks, each with a statist media bias that persists to this day; today, one TV network has at least a dozen libertarian star commentators, serving to educate and interpret current events from a libertarian perspective. Political talk radio, which barely existed, is now filled with libertarian and libertarian-leaning hosts. Nixon got away with imposing wage and price controls; I doubt such economy-wide controls could be replicated by a Republican today. The purported “health are” act has inadvertently created a revolution in cash-pay free market healthcare. Many people and organizations, not to mention the failures of government, are sowing the seeds for a free market revolution.

Voting for Libertarian Party candidates today serves only to divide the vote between those who would slow (Republicans) or reverse (libertarians) the trend towards increasing statism. Splitting the vote allows those who would accelerate that trend to win by default. We need to support -- dare I say it? -- the lesser of the evils. While most votes require me to hold my nose, I get lucky now and then and truly support a candidate. I would love the opportunity to vote for a Rand Paul, a Ted Cruz, a Marco Rubio -- and suspect I will soon have such an opportunity. But we need to ensure Republicans -- even those we would never vote for in a sane world – win the Senate so that we can hold the line in the interim. We can’t afford to give another seat on the Supreme Court to a pseudo-liberal. The reign of Harry Reid, one of the most despicable statists ever to hold elected office, must end.

My pocketbook is walking the walk today. I am supporting, via monetary donations, libertarian-leaning Republicans and even nonlibertarian Republicans in close races against statists/Democrats. This includes those running for Senate in Colorado, Alaska, Iowa, North Carolina and New Hampshire and, for governor, in Wisconsin. (I sent a bit to Mia Love in Utah even though she’s winning handily in her congressional race, only because she should be the face of the Republican Party.) I’m considering sending financial support to Republican senators running in Louisiana and Georgia, but waiting until the expected runoffs. I implore other libertarians to vote for and monetarily support Republicans. If there is any chance to salvage some semblance of constitutional limited government, it must be tried. After 40+ years, it’s obvious the Libertarian Party, while serving as an educational platform, cannot win a major political office. The Republican Party is, faults and all, our only hope.

Doug Thorburn, EA, CFP® connects the dots between alcoholism and political malfeasance in www.AddictionReport.com.

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